If at first you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again… Yesterday, this question occupied my mind; is it possible to fail honourably in this cut-throat generation where everyone is competing with everyone else?
Today, I answer my own question as I relay the not-so-successful moments of Anda Maqanda’s entrepreneurial journey…plus the persistence that propelled him onward even when his father stated that the reason he was seeking to become an entrepreneur was because he was ‘too lazy to work.’
How do you pick yourself up and try again? That’s what we share on #EntrepreneurTuesdays.
Born on the Eastern Cape, Anda Maqanda attended the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and graduated with a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering. He worked as a Junior electrical Engineer with VolksWagen and thereafter with Cape Advance Engineering before he decided he had had enough.
In 2008, at twenty-four, Anda made his first foray into the world of entrepreneurship, his father’s disapproval ringing in his ears. He launched his power company AM Group and stopped dead in the water. With no contracts and no leads, Anda failed honourably and returned to paid employment. I cannot imagine how he must have felt with the ‘I told you so’ crew hot on his tails.
What lessons did Anda take home from this foiled venture? The art of being prepared with necessary documentation for a business and the necessity of having a viable business plan to measure progress and minimize risks.
Two years later, Anda struck out again, and this time, he was prepared. With funding from his salaries and pensions, he re-launched AM Group in 2010 because he saw the opportunity and a need for excellent reliable power infrastructure in South Africa and has not looked back.
AM Group is an engineering company that offers engineering consulting, design and construction of electrical overhead power lines, renewable energy and automation. With branches across the continent in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Nairiobi Kenya, and Addis Ababa Ethiopia, the AM Group employs more than 150 workers.
He waited six months to get his first contract, but this time, he was prepared to stay in for the long haul, and it was worth the wait when he landed a contract from the City of Cape Town. His clients also include Eskom, South Africa’s public electricity utility, De Beers (for which AM Group provided mining and extraction services) Metrorail, Heineken, and the Swaziland Electricity Company, among others.
Anda has not limited himself to the power sector and has broad interests in other sectors. He is the Founder of Kasi5000 (Pty) Ltd (Township Internet Cafés) and a Co-Founder / Non- Executive Director of Edu-Portal .
He has received some sort of accolade for every year he has been in business; in 2015, he was named as one of Forbes magazine’s 30 promising young entrepreneurs in Africa. In 2014 : Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans Award, Rising Stars Awards: Entrepreneur/SME Award, Eastern Cape Premier Awards: Youth Entrepreneur Award and Oliver Empowerment Awards: Nominee -Top Black Entrepreneur.
In 2013, he was the SAB Kickstart Entrepreneur Awards : National Winner and the SEDA: EC Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2012: Progressive Business: Small Enterprise Winner; 2011 : Silver Arrow: SMME Nominee and in 2010 he was a finalist at the Enablis Business Competition.
What was the senior Mr. Maqanda saying again?
His entrepreneurship advice:
Never to bite off more than you can chew. It’s better to turn away business than to take on business you can’t complete.
In an interview with t HowWeMadeItInAfrica, he shared more tidbits:
“Entrepreneurs have to learn the power of networking and the value of mentorship, as these are the things that most entrepreneurs take for granted. They must be willing to work harder than they have ever done before and be willing to take criticism because that is the only way to learn. Reputation is everything in business. Always strive to deliver more than what you have promised. “
Networking, mentorship, hardwork, thick skin and a good reputation… these are a few of Anda’s Favourite things!!!